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Merriweather v. Hoffner

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 2, 2015

WILLIAM A. MERRIWEATHER, Petitioner,
v.
BONITA J. HOFFNER, Warden, Respondent.

ORDER GRANTING APRIL 27, 2015 MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF ORDER DENYING MOTION TO AMEND MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT, BUT ADHERING TO THE DECISIONS DENYING PETITIONER'S APRIL 2, 2015 MOTION FOR RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT AND DENYING MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF THOSE DECISIONS; DENYING MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO MOVE TO EXPAND THE RECORD; AND DENYING A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABLITY AND LEAVE TO APPEAL IN FORMA PAUPERIS

GERALD E. ROSEN, Chief District Judge.

This habeas corpus matter is presently before the Court on several motions filed by Petitioner William Merriweather in April-May 2015, to-wit, Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying his Motion to Amend his Rule 60(b)(6) motion for relief from judgment, filed on April 27, 2015 [Dkt. # 93]; and three motions filed on May 4, 2015: (1) Motion for Extension of Time to move to expand the record pursuant to Rule 7 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases [Dkt. # 94]; (2) Request to Amend Rule 60(b)(6) Motion for Relief from Judgment [Dkt. # 96]; and (3) Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying Petitioner's Motion for Relief from Judgment [Dkt. # 97].

Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration of Order Denying Motion to Amend

On April 13, 2015, the Court entered an Order denying Petitioner Merriweather's April 9, 2015 Motion to Amend one of his previously-filed motions for relief from judgment as moot. In reaching its conclusion, the Court understood Petitioner's motion to have been directed at a motion for relief from judgment he had filed in July 2007. In his April 27, 2015 motion for reconsideration, however, Merriweather states that the Court misunderstood the focus of his motion: Rather than seeking to amend his July 2007 motion for relief from judgment (which he had brought pursuant to subsections (1), (2) and (4) of Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)), Merriweather states that he was seeking to amend a new motion for relief from judgment which he filed on April 2, 2015, in which he sought relief pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6).

However, as of April 13, 2015, i.e., the date of the Court's Order Denying Petitioner's Motion to Amend, Petitioner's April 2, 2015 Motion for Relief from Judgment had not yet been entered on the docket of this case.[1] Hence, the Court was not aware that Petitioner had filed any motion for relief from judgment other than the July 26, 2007 motion and, therefore, concluded that it was this motion that was the focus of Petitioner's Motion to Amend. Because both this Court and Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals had already decided all of the issues raised in Petitioner's 2007 Motion for Relief from Judgment, the Court concluded that Petitioner's Motion to Amend that motion was moot.

As Petitioner's Motion to Amend was directed at amending/correcting his April 2, 2015 Rule 60(b)(6) Motion, and not his July 2007 Rule 60(b) Motion, the Court will GRANT Petitioner's motion for reconsideration [Dkt. # 93], and the Court's determination that Petitioner's Motion to Amend was moot is hereby vacated. The Court, accordingly, accepts the corrections to the April 2, 2015 Motion for Relief from Judgment requested by Petitioner, and treats that Motion as having been filed as corrected.

However, the amendments/corrections to Petitioner's Motion do not change the Court's ruling on the April 2, 2015 motion for relief from judgment. The Court, in fact, addressed Petitioner's request for relief from judgment as if relief had been sought under subsections (1), (2), (4), as well as subsection (6) of Rule 60(b). It is the substitution of subsection (6) for subsections (1), (2) and (4) that is the only correction of note to the motion for relief from judgment made by way of the motion to amend. [ See Dkt. # 100, Amended Order Denying Petitioner's April 2, 2015 Motion for Relief from Judgment, and Denying a Certificate of Appealability and Leave to Appeal In Forma Pauperis ]. As the Court treated the motion as having been filed pursuant to subsection (6) and denied relief even under that subsection, the amendment to the motion does not change the Court's ruling.

Petitioner's May 4, 2015 Motions

The three motions Petitioner filed on May 4, 2015 are directed at the Court's April 21, 2015 Order denying Petitioner's April 2, 2015 Motion.[2] By Petitioner's proposed expansion of the record, which is at the heart of Petitioner's motion for extension of time and his request to amend his Rule 60(b)(6) motion, and in his contemporaneously-filed motion for reconsideration, Petitioner contends that he can show "exceptional circumstances" for his 14-year delay in seeking relief from judgment. However, untimeliness was not the sole basis for the Court's denial of the motion for relief from Judgment. The Court also found no substantive merit in Petitioner's argument for relief from judgment which was predicated upon the magistrate judge's failure to rule on his motion for an evidentiary hearing and the lack of a response to his subsequent letter request to the Court to remand the matter to the magistrate judge for an evidentiary hearing. As the Court explained in its Order denying Petitioner's Motion for Relief from Judgment:

[P]ursuant to the Rules Governing Habeas Cases under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the determination of whether to conduct a hearing is left to the discretion of the court . As provided in Rule 8,
If the petition is not dismissed, the judge must review the answer, any transcripts and records of state-court proceedings and any materials submitted under Rule 7 to determine whether an evidentiary hearing is warranted.
Clearly, the Court determined that no evidentiary hearing was needed in Petitioner's case. The Court of Appeals agreed. In fact, the appellate court expressly denied the motion filed by Petitioner in that court to remand the case to this Court to conduct an evidentiary hearing. See Sixth Circuit 4/30/02 Order at Dkt. #77.

[5/13/15 Amended Order Denying Petitioner's April 2, 2015 Motion for Relief from Judgment, and Denying a Certificate of Appealability and Leave to Appeal In Forma ...


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